I remember when I was younger and the big thing was the IOU. I owe you. When you made a deal, you pulled out a piece of paper and wrote an IOU note. This note basically was a binding contract between you and your friend, and the holder of the IOU was promised that at some point they would receive whatever you promised on said note. I used this method of contract many times over.
When you paid back the IOU, your friend would give you back the paper and you could destroy it as a sign that it was paid in full. With Jesus, He takes that IOU note that is meant for us to pay back God so as to not face His wrath for our sin, and He pays it off for us. He pays it off and it’s cancelled. It is paid in full. Wiped away. Boom. He clears the IOU and it is nailed to the Cross.
How awesome is it that we have our sins wiped away? How awesome is it that there is no IOU? All we have to do is repent and then we are freely welcomed into the Kingdom. We no longer have an IOU. When it’s time for the punishment, we simply say, “Oh, I’m already paid. Jesus paid for me.” Thank you Jesus. Thank You for taking care of my IOU. He paid a debt we never could pay. My friends, we are cleared. We are free. We are His.
“Having cancelled and blotted out and wiped away the handwriting of the note (bond) with its legal decrees and demands which was in force and stood again us (hostile to us). This [note with its regulations, decrees, and demands] He set aside and cleared completely out of our way by nailing it to [His] cross.” – Colossians 2:14 [AMP]
Rules. Instructions. Decrees. Commands. Regulations. Directives. Orders. Laws. Statutes. Stipulations. Guidelines. Directions. Requirements. Ordinances. Mandates. What words that bring us joy! Not usually. Many people skip over instructions. Some people try to figure out a way to break the rules or twist the laws. Some people barely like to make the requirements. Ordinances really do not include me. But in Psalm 19, David speaks about God’s Commandments “bringing joy to the heart.”
David says many things in today’s verses. He uses the words: perfect, trustworthy, right, and clear. I love this description. There’s no twisting His commands. There’s no way to barely follow. There’s no chance that it doesn’t include me. We typically think of rules as a negative—as a way to restrict us from doing what we would like, but look at how David describes the instructions of the Lord. They REVIVE THE SOUL. They MAKE WISE THE SIMPLE. They BRING JOY TO THE HEART.
Finally, he says they are clear—they GIVE INSIGHT FOR LIVING and they BRING JOY TO THE HEART. We look at so many self-help books and watch so many videos on how to do things. But everything is right here for us—and the Lord’s instructions are CLEAR. Why do we make it so complicated? Today, consider what the Lord’s instructions mean to you. When you start seeing the reason the Lord gave them to us, you will start to have this JOY that David spoke about in this psalm. You will start to say, “He loves me THAT much” and “He cares for me THAT much” – and it will bring joy to your heart. As your love grows, you will start to find joy in all of the Lord’s commands. You will even enjoy reading Leviticus.
“The instructions of the LORD are perfect, reviving the soul. The decrees of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The commandments of the LORD are right, bringing joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are clear, giving insight for living.” – Psalm 19:7-8 [NLT]
Today I took a walk and it was really foggy outside. The funny thing about fog is that when you are walking through the fog, you cannot see ahead of you, and you cannot see behind you either. If you turn around to look where you just came from, you cannot see anything except for right where you are at– you can only focus on the present. It reminds me about how we are supposed to focus our attention on the present.
If we focus so much on the past, we are taking our focus off of God, because God is in the here and now. God is in the present, right now, with us, working, clearing the path, preparing us, by our side– He is with us! If we are trying to focus on the past… oh I wish I could have done that better…oh I wish I never did this… why did I do that… how did this happen… you feel so much of a failure and you focus so much attention on the past that you are not allowing your focus to be on God and right now so that good things can happen… so that you can focus on your purpose for now and move ahead.
In the same sense you cannot focus on the future. It’s okay to have a vision. It’s okay to plan things out. It’s not okay when you start becoming afraid of what is going to happen. If you start focusing too much attention on the future of all the great things that are going to happen, as well, you take your focus off of God.
C.S. Lewis has a book called “the Screwtape Letters.” Letter 15 talks about the danger of focusing on the past, because God’s not there, and focusing on the future. The future he says, inflames fear and hope. The past is “frozen and no longer flows.” The present, he says, “is all lit up with eternal rays.” Gratitude looks to the past. Love looks to the present. Fear, lust, and ambition looks to the future. As Matthew 6:34 states, we need to not worry about tomorrow because today has enough worries.
God gives us all we need to handle today. We just need to be focused on today to see that. It’s okay to have plans. It’s good to have a vision for your life. We cannot get so involved about what happened in the past (because God has already forgiven us for that) that we don’t focus on the here and now. You cannot get so involved in what God is going to do with you in the future, because you won’t listen then to what He is saying right now. Jeremiah 29:11 gave us the promise. He wants us to have hope and He wants us to have a future.
We need to focus on right now, today, and listen to what He is saying. There are times when we are not going to hear things. There are times when we won’t get the answer we want. If you are confused right now about which direction you are to take in life… if you have decisions you need to make and you prayed about it and you don’t think you’ve gotten enough answers on which way to go, but you know you need to go in a certain direction… it’s okay to take a step forward. God is with you. If it’s the wrong step, you’ll know. You’ll find out. It’s okay to make mistakes. God uses those mistakes to teach us some important lessons.
Don’t focus on the fog in your life. Don’t focus on the past. It’s okay to learn from your mistakes and it’s okay to grow from your mistakes, but don’t focus on the past. At the same time, don’t focus on the future. It’s okay to have a vision for your life. It’s okay to have hopes and dreams, but understand that God is in the present- He’s in the here and now and He’s working with you to get to the future. It’s all about your eternal life, not just about this one moment. And so you need to focus on the present, and in the end, no matter what, God is always with you.
“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
– Matthew 6:34 [NIV]
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
– Jeremiah 29:11 [ESV]